Monday Morning Fika: Starla Kaye on Writing Sensual Spanking Fiction

Good morning and welcome to the New Year’s Eve edition of Monday Morning Fika!  Today, for your discussion pleasure, we have the lovely Starla Kaye!  She has been writing spanking fiction since the very beginning.  I think her first story involved a brontosaurus getting spanked…

Starla asked me what to chat about today, and my (initial, uncensored) reaction was: “Geez, ANYTHING!”  🙂  What a long career of writing, what a vast array of books, and what a truly kind person behind it all!  Please welcome Starla today.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to write for this conversational piece and floundered around in my thoughts. There already have been some great posts, each of which I wish I’d written myself. I found myself constantly nodding or saying “yes, I totally agree.” And I ended up wondering what I could possibly say that would interest anyone. But dear Ana is very encouraging, so bear with me.

Ana commented that she thought I’d been writing for a pretty long time. True. It always seems that if you mention to someone that you’re a writer, they respond with “I’ve been thinking about writing a book, too. One of these days…” Well, I went that extra step about twenty-five years ago and actually wrote my first book. It was so exciting to finish it! But it stunk, like most authors’ first books. Still, I had set a goal, struggled to meet it, and did. Then what?

I’m one of those research and analyze people, figure how something should really be done, find out what I can do with whatever it is that I’ve completed. Back then I really knew nothing about the real ‘how-tos’ of writing. I loved to read and thought that was enough. Silly me. Since then I’ve skimmed through a lot of ‘how-to write’ books, attended tons of writers’ conferences and workshops, and most importantly I joined (and still belong to) three writers’ groups (two local groups and Romance Writers of America).

Back to my first thoughts about analyzing the world of writing… I seriously studied the markets, the best selling genres, and where I might want to submit my work. I thought I wanted to write mysteries, but at that time the market was extremely tight. And I really didn’t have a clue to how to write a mystery. Romance seemed to me to be the biggest market and there were so many different sub-genres. Since I have always loved HEAs (Happily Ever Afters) I decided this was the way I wanted to go. I had never read even one romance book, but I started devouring them.

Bored yet? Sorry, I just wanted to give you some background on my early thinking as a newbie writer. I’ll skip over the next dozen years where I honed my skills and did some small time writing for different online sites and a couple of magazines. In my scouring the various romances, I discovered the old historical ones that had discipline elements, too. What a discovery! I could write a romance with a HEA and write about an interest that excited me.

Since that time I have published 19 novels, 31 novellas, 14 short stories, and 7 anthologies mainly under the pen name of Starla Kaye. I also write as S. K. Fero and Skylar Faye. Almost all of these works involve discipline elements, mainly spanking, and they are in many different sub-genres of romance. I admit that most my stories are M/F because that is what I am most familiar with. But I have done several M/M and M/F/M books, and one F/M story. All but a few of my stories have involved DD. One of these days I would like to try writing F/F, too. I love trying new things, testing myself as a writer.

The key thing to all of my stories, no matter what genders are involved, is that the two (sometimes three people) care about each other. There is, of course, occasional friction between them, just as in real life. Even two people in love don’t agree all of the time on everything. And my characters are equals, but one of them agrees (internally and externally) to be more subservient to the other. There are many spanking stories that don’t involve choices, where one character is sternly and unquestionably demanding. I have no problem reading these, but they aren’t what I prefer to write. Although my pirate story, Hawke’s Lady, came close to that, at least in the beginning.

I write different levels of DD and D/s, but I have the most fun writing spanking scenes that are more foreplay. Some of my stories contain both types, punishment spankings and the more sensual kind. A lot of people involved in real life spanking and readers of spanking stories don’t think the two kinds mix. I’m not one of those.

Ana asked what I hope readers take away from my stories. Enjoyment. I write because I love to and I mainly write in a particular niche that excites me. I feel so blessed to have created so many different characters who share their lives, their hopes, their disappointments, and their eventual happiness with me. They become my friends as I write their stories. Sadly, because I have written so many stories, I lose track of some of those “old friends.” My hope is that my readers discover special characters (possibly “friends”) in some of my books and maybe even a few of those characters will stick with them and come back in their memories at some point. Every once in a while I hear from a reader who so enjoys a particular book that they read it over and over again. What better compliment can a writer hear?

My latest book from Blushing Books was a Christmas novella, Oh So Nice…and Naughty.

Buy Link: Blushing Books

Buy Link: Amazon

About Starla Kaye

Starla Kaye is all about living, laughing, and loving. She travels every chance she gets to experience different places (potential settings) and observe people, and just because. She doesn’t take life overly seriously and loves being with family and friends and laughing as much as possible. And she is in love with “love.”

She writes romance and she generally includes spanking and DD elements in her stories. She writes about two people who struggle with reaching their HEA, who butt heads, and often one of them gets a hand applied to their butt. Her books are published with Blushing Books, Black Velvet Seductions, Decadent Publishing, and Red Rose Publishing. You can read more about her and her books on her website: www.starlakaye.com. Her Amazon Author Page is http://www.amazon.com/Starla-Kaye/e/B002ZH8K3U .

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51 thoughts on “Monday Morning Fika: Starla Kaye on Writing Sensual Spanking Fiction

  1. Starla Kaye says:

    Spanking those brontosaurai (spelling?) wasn’t easy! lol Thanks for having me here today, Ana. I’ll do my best to check in now and then, but this is a crazy day…No, it’s my sister who is crazy. She’s having her annual New Year’s Eve party with role playing games (mystery murder) and, as always, she is going nuts already this morning. I have to go over and calm her down. Happy New Year to everyone1

    Like

    • Ana says:

      Giggle. I wasn’t sure how that joke would go over (or if you’d be insulted). Phew!

      I understand the crazy day part! I’ll be leaving this post up tomorrow (i.e. not posting tomorrow), so it can be a two-day thing. 😀

      Happy new year!

      Like

  2. pao says:

    Hi Ana and Sarla! I think it’s brontosauri? It’d be really funny to see a T-rex and brontosaurus pair in a DD relationship. Those tiny hands.

    Do you find it difficult to end a character’s story? Especially when the story is a series of books?

    Happy New Year to everyone 🙂

    Like

    • Starla Kaye says:

      You’re right about those tiny hands…

      Sometimes I do find it hard to end a character’s story. Some characters become very close to me and I want to keep on writing about them. Most of my series books will have the initial book’s characters at least make appearances again, but I still want more about them…but it isn’t their story.

      Like

        • Starla Kaye says:

          I never say never about anything. I have so many storylines already committed to my publishers that I don’t give a lot of thought to returning to my old series books. Recently I’ve had a number of readers asking me for sequels to some of my single titles, for stories about the side characters. I may squeeze in some of that.

          Like

  3. Willie says:

    Well I for one am very happy that even though you say your first book stunk, you trudged on. I LOVE reading your writing Starla ( you too Ana).

    Happy New Year to you both. ( my wish to find more time reading in the New Year)

    Willie

    Like

    • Starla Kaye says:

      Thanks, Willie, for enjoying my “trudging on” books.

      No matter how bad that first book is, it sticks with you. I, and so many writers I know, often think about somehow reviving that book. In a way I did last year (or maybe the year before, I lose track). Tangled Lies is sort of based on pieces of the original story.

      Like

      • Ana says:

        Well, for me it is just one book so far Willie, but March will double that. 🙂

        I read once that most writers can write one story very well and everything else is a variation of that story, no matter how much the setting or characters or plot may seem to change. If that’s true, it would make sense why we want to revisit our first ones. Or maybe it’s a perfectionism thing.

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        • Starla Kaye says:

          I think that writing a variation of the one very good story is somewhat true. More in that each writer seems to develop their own style and what they’re comfortable writing. And because romance writers basically write romance, everything is a variation of reaching for the HEA or HFN (happy for now).

          Like

  4. Celeste Jones says:

    Hi Starla (and Ana).

    Great interview! Thanks, Starla. I would also like to second Ana’s comment that Starla is a truly kind person. No matter how busy she is, she always has time to answer a question or give advice and if you ever email her because you think you might have accidentally deleted the posts she sent you (but then you find it), she takes it all in stride. 🙂

    I always like to hear how people get started. I got tired of being one of those “someday…” people and I’m glad I did. I would encourage anyone who has a “someday…” in their life, whether it’s writing, skiing, bungee jumping, piano playing or [insert secret desire here] to go for it. And what better time to start than with a new year?

    Like

    • Starla Kaye says:

      I’ve made PLENTY of mistakes on the computer over the years (and continue to do so). Besides, few things in life ever go the way you think it will…so adjust, rethink, take it in stride, or go nuts.

      I also enjoy hearing how people got started as a writer or as an artist or a bungee jumper…whatever. Everyone has a different story about their secret desires and their beginnings at pursuing them. Over the years I’ve had lots of “secret desires”, like skydiving, scuba diving, ballooning, singing. Reality has slowly sunk in and made me rethink some of those desires. But I love flying, snorkeling, singing to myself. And I still want to go ballooning someday.

      Like

      • Ana says:

        I hope that you go ballooning! I think people who don’t secretly wish they could do something must miss something. To have that secret wish adds something special to our lives, I think.

        Another neat thing about having secret (healthy) wishes is that they usually lead to something else.

        Like

        • Starla Kaye says:

          I’ve slowly been doing some of my secret wishes…and then adding on new ones. I used to want to fly in a helicopter and have done so twice now. The second time was in Kauai and it was without doors, weird at first, but I ended up loving it.

          Like

  5. Cara Bristol says:

    Starla, I”m assuming you’ve also read a lot of spanking fiction. What changes have you seen in the genre since you started writing? How have stories changed? Do you think the publishing opportunities are better or worse now for spanking fiction than it was 25 years ago?

    Like

  6. Starla Kaye says:

    Yes, there have been a lot of changes in actual published spanking fiction over the years. When I first read it in actual published romances, they were in historical romances. The scenes varied from harsh to slightly titillating. But you certainly didn’t even hint about it in regular romances. The world of romance stories has changed a HUGE amount, with lots of ups and downs in what is “acceptable” and what is “trash.”

    Like many spanking writers, I discovered the world of Internet and the many different spanking story places. I published regularly with a couple of them for several years before pursuing it in other ways. What I found on those sites (back then) was a lot of stories written to satisfy the authors’ interests and fetishes, most of them really, really poorly written. But that didn’t really matter. These authors weren’t getting paid for quality work and they seemed to be happy with what they were writing. Eventually I wanted more, and better.

    For the most part the various sites I know of today have pretty decent stories, but I haven’t been back to the sites I began with. I can’t see those as having improved.

    Overall I think the publishing opportunities are much better than ever before and I see it staying that way, or even getting better. Spanking fiction is really where I began my paid author career, although it wasn’t ever where I intended to go. I can’t complain about the success I’ve had and the money I’ve made, which gets better every year.

    Like

    • Ana says:

      Sure, rub it in that you make good money as a writer…I hear from so many people who make little or almost no money with their writing and struggle whether to give up altogether. I wonder what you attribute your success to?

      I wonder if the huge number of stories getting published now is better or worse. I mean, it’s easier to get published now but I think the publication means less. I mean, so many people publish one book that doesn’t sell well and then quit.

      Like

      • Starla Kaye says:

        I’ll never get super rich as a writer, but I’m happy with what I make and how I get to do it. I have friends who publish with the big houses and everything is so much stricter for them (deadlines, what they can write, guidelines) and promotion is still mainly on their own. I just don’t want that kind of pressure. I write what I like, when I want to write, and the guidelines I follow are fairly loose. Promotion, though, is still a pain in the neck.

        My current success is because I stuck to it. Few authors getting paid strictly on royalties make much money for a while. My name has been out there a while now and my fan base grows regularly, which I’m thankful for.

        There are a huge number of stories getting easily published now, Good, bad…I don’t really know. More competition, yes. But there is also a lot of really poor quality stuff getting published now, and I think THAT hurts all of us.

        If someone gives up after having poor sales on just one book, then they probably shouldn’t have even made the effort in the first place. They don’t really want to be a writer., in my opinion. There are few real jobs where someone first starts and makes a lot of money or gains a good reputation right away. It takes honing your skills, paying your dues (so to speak), and persistence to become good at anything. And being a money-earning writer isn’t easy.

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  7. minellesbreath says:

    Hi Starla and Ana! I love your books…..yes Ana I have read many/most of them…..! Where do I find the time you ask? Well I am the consummate procrastinator! I put off today what I can do next week!
    Starla I have Hawkes Lady. It was one of the first spanking stories I bought!
    I love how you mix the erotic and punishment. I have heard from a many people that they experience that difference.
    The computer mistakes you all speak of…..well lets just say I have many.
    Great post.

    Like

    • Starla Kaye says:

      Hawke’s Lady is one of my favorite stories, one that I had a lot of fun writing. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And, yes, I work hard to mix sensuality/erotic enjoyment with my punishment stories. Some are harder than others.

      One of my newer books where I tried something different with spanking and erotic enjoyment was in my M/M story from Decadent Publishing, The CEO and the Cowboy. This is a story that I’m supposed to be writing a sequel to because so many people enjoyed it. But it will have three people this time, I’m adding a woman.

      Like

        • Ana says:

          You and computer mistakes…yes. Legendary. 🙂

          That reminds me, Starla, that I didn’t ask any of the usual questions about your favorite book, etc.

          Like

          • Starla Kaye says:

            If you’re talking about a favorite book that I’ve written, it’s hard to say. I think my three medieval romances may have touched me the most. Maggie Mine and its sequel The Great Scottish Devil (both from Blushing Books) had characters that I really enjoyed. Brody in “Devil” won my heart because of all that he had to deal with and readers tend to like him, too.

            Their Lady Gloriana was my m/m/f book from Black Velvet Seductions and another of my favorites. Rowan, the main hero’s first knight/lover, won me over and readers as well. I am writing a sequel this year which will be Rowan’s story, but the others will also return in that book.

            Like

  8. Pooky says:

    Starla- I am excited to see you today you are a wealth of friendly information.

    I want to add here to any of the readers that you have an amazing website full of information for writers at any part of their career.

    I just found Rubbish to Publish and maybe it is old news to some but I LOVE it!!!

    I am curious if you don’t mind sharing- about your journey with different publishing companies.

    A lot of us are with different Companies, and that is great- some of them are names in your background.

    I kind of feel like it is best to pick one and stay there… But, I am curious what you have learned? and feel free to ignore me. I never ever mean to offend anyone. I am just curious.

    Thanks a bunch for sharing today!!

    Patty Devlin

    Like

    • Starla Kaye says:

      I’m always happy to hear when someone finds my Rubbish to Publish site and discovers something useful. I really enjoy working with writers, especially helping newbies. But every time I add an article there or research and write one for a local writers’ newsletter, I learn something new myself. I’m just a little more experienced “newbie.”

      It really isn’t that I ever planned on publishing with different companies, or with online publishers. Originally I submitted to old-fashioned way to the big dogs like Harlequin/Silhouette. I went all the way through to the final committee with a couple of books but I wasn’t willing to change the stories the way they wanted and ended up publishing one of them myself in 2000. I’m always amazed that Tug of Love continues to sell. I’ve never promoted it. Mainly I just wanted to try publishing myself.

      As I mentioned earlier, I really started just writing short spanking stories for a couple of online spanking sites. Eventually I was approached about writing for an online publisher and I began with Blushing Books, actually with Bethany’s Woodshed and Spanking Romance. It was a good marriage of writer and publisher and remains to be so. She lets me write anything and everything I want. She would buy everything that I write, which is always nice to hear.

      But Blushing is really only spanking of some kind focused, with erotic or other romance added in. I also wanted to write romance without that element and submitted to Red Rose Publishing. I only wrote a couple of short novellas for them, although she would like to have more of my stories. I think about writing another story for them once in a while, but I get over-committed with the other publishers.

      I discovered Black Velvet Seductions one day and it was fairly new at the time. I’m always interested in something new, helping someone, so I submitted a story there. The problem there is the publisher has struggled with growth. I enjoy working with them and the owner is a wonderful editor, from whom I’ve, hopefully, learned a lot and it helps all of my writing. We continue to work on books together and are building a complicated series of 7 stories right now.

      And then I discovered Decadent Publishing back when their 1 Night Stand Series was really just starting. I wanted to try writing for it and have published two stories with that series. Then I published The CEO and the Cowboy with their main line and they want a sequel to it. They are wonderful to work with and I’ve met Val and Kate (the 1 Night Stand editors) and the owner at a conference a couple of years ago. I love them all, so I enjoy writing for them, too.

      Do you see my problem? I want to try everything! Fortunately I’ve found publishers/editors who like my work and allow me to write for multiple places. What I do is try to write a specific type of story for each publisher. I mainly try to keep the spanking stories with Blushing, but Black Velvet and Decadent also want them. It does get complicated, but so far nobody really cares and everyone is happy.

      Like

  9. Ana says:

    I took a quick skim…what a GREAT conversation! I am actually out today entertaining family, but I can’t wait to reply. Please jump in even if I’m not able to respond. Isn’t it great to have Starla here?

    Like

  10. Joelle Casteel says:

    That was a fun read, Starla. I can’t think you enough lol- I’d seen HEAs and wondered what that acronym meant, never thinking it could be something as simple as “happily ever after.” I’ve been pondering on any writer’s workshops etc. First off, money is tight for anything extra like that, and really, if I go for a free workshop, is that going to be one of those things were the adage “you get what you pay for” holds out? I’ll have to go look at your other published works though… I’m so Christmas-d out

    Like

    • Starla Kaye says:

      I know there are lots of acronyms these days and it is hard to determine what they mean. It’s kind of like figuring out what some license plates mean.

      It’s hard to say about free workshops. Sometimes you get really good information, sometimes it isn’t worth the effort. One thing I feel strongly about is being part of a writers’ group and it doesn’t matter if they write in your genre or not.

      I’ve belonged to RWA (Romance Writers of America) for years and have never gotten much out of it, now I just belong out of habit. But I joined one of their chapters, a local one WARA (Wichita Area Romance Authors), which, of course, has a romance focus. It is helpful…some. Mainly they are now long-time friends of mine. I was even president of the Outreach International chapter for a couple of years a while back.

      The group I get the most out of is another local group KWA (Kansas Writers Association), which is a multi-genre group (thrillers, memoirs, poetry, fantasy, mysteries, romance, etc.). I get a lot out of that group because we all share our knowledge of the writing craft and support each other. That is a HUGE deal. No one besides another writer really knows what a writer means when they say their characters talk to them…and other crazy things.

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      • Joelle Casteel says:

        Well Starla, as a Unitarian Universalist (more commonly typed UU), one would think I’m better with acronyms lol. Many of us actually find we need to remind each other in conversation to be careful with acronyms, lest me exclude new people- I’ve had conversations with other UUs that contained more acronyms than actual words.

        So far on writing groups, I’ve found simply belonging to the spanking group on facebook, with Ana and many of the other regulars here, to be the most supportive and worthwhile experience. I tried ERWA many years ago, but I’ve found that my particular type of BDSM erotic romance (yes, I do so like that RWA term, erotic romance because it fits what I write better than erotica) doesn’t seem very welcome among the authors at ERWA. Funny thing is, I’d never thought of writing anything besides BDSM, but learning about DD and reading many sub-genres of spanking fiction, I can see myself writing that happily too.

        But idk, I find my mind circling a bunch of things this morning, and I’m just not sure. Like in reading your comments about researching genres, what will sell etc. I know I’m in an enviable position- while publishing books, making money will help my family’s finances, I don’t have to make money; in fact, my Master is constantly reminding me- “Write what you love, publish how you want.” so my thoughts swirl especially around the conversation I started about cover art in the spanking group. I don’t believe my writing could be described as “sweet” like Ana’s “Vengeance of Mrs. Claus,” but I still want a different sort of cover, a different sort of sensuality, than others may think is appropriate for my novels.

        Like

        • Starla Kaye says:

          I struggle with keeping up with the Facebook group and tribberr and all social media really. Life gets so complex. I must have missed the conversation about covers. Covers are definitely a tricky thing. I’ve had some good ones, and some that I only sort of like.

          I also don’t really need my writing income, which is why I dabble all over the place in whatever I want to write rather than fighting to get published with one of the big 6. Not worth the hassle, in my opinion. Your Master is right and it is fortunate you are in that position.

          Like

          • Joelle Casteel says:

            yeah, social media can be quite burdensome. Like I’ve decided for the time being at least not to add Twitter to the things I do, whether personally or an author. well the cover conversation is still going on 😀 and I’m still pondering it lol.

            I can’t imagine only writing to please any publisher, whether it be one of the big 6 or any of the tons of epublishers. With my series, I’ve fallen into the habit of having someone tell me “I just heard about this new publisher; maybe they’ll like Vala.” and I get to the guidelines only to find I’ve violated at least one if not more and I’m not willing to change my story.

            Like

              • Joelle Casteel says:

                I’m using Lulu.com for my series. I’d tried them back in 2008. It was a good experience. The thing was, the book wasn’t ready and I hadn’t reached out to start reading, blogging, meeting people etc… so I only sold 3 ebooks and then realized my errors. From what I read, they’ve fixed the distribution process (I couldn’t figure it out before) but now they have a free distribution plan that allows your books to go on Amazon.com and Amazon.uk, in addition to their bookstore.

                Like

  11. Sunny Girl says:

    Great interview. Thank you starla and ana. I’ll have to go back and read the comments later, they look interesting also.

    Happy New Year to all. Ana. enjoy your parents visit.

    Like

      • Ana says:

        I am NOT a mischief-maker. Sheesh! 😛

        Come back and chat soon, Sunny. Enjoying the visit even if it means little sleep. It’s a short visit, after all.

        Like

  12. Ami says:

    Thanks Ana for introducing Starla to us! I’ve read several of her stories and think they are great. I especially like the fact that they have happy endings. There’s too much misery in life around us, and her books have the ‘feel good’ factor. They are also very well written. I am amazed by the low calibre of grammar and spelling in fiction these days. However, if people want to read it, who am I to argue?

    Starla makes some very good points about her writing. I’m going through a horrible process at the moment of trying to get literary agents just to take a look at my synopsis of my first novel. They are always too busy! I’ve had it out there with ‘readers’ who all say I should go for it! But how?! I never dreamt it would be so ‘cut-throat’! I suppose I will end up joining the multitude who end up self-publishing – which is very costly, especially the advertising in order to get bookshops to buy copies.

    It’s really good to know someone like Starla has been so successful. I hope she will go on writing her excellent stories for a very long time! Once again, thank you Ana for the opportunity to hear what she has to say.

    Hugs, Ami

    Like

    • Starla Kaye says:

      I have several friends who write for the main houses and have agents, but getting an agent isn’t easy. A lot of writers don’t/can’t get an agent until AFTER they have sold their first book. And then, in my opinion, why would you want to share your money with an agent at that point…unless you’re really destined to become a NY best selling author. I wish you luck in your search for an agent.

      Yes, I plan to go on writing for as long as I can, or choose to do so. I love creating stories and characters. And since I’m lucky enough to have publishers who want my work, I’m doing it for than just myself. But I’d write anyway, even if only to please me.

      Like

  13. Starla Kaye says:

    Late breaking news…Adam, Braddocks Book Two, my second book in the Western historical series about the Braddock brothers from Blushing Books will be released from them January 5th.

    Like

  14. Julia D. says:

    Sure, of course, adding more on my “to read” list, why not? How much time do you think I have to read? Wonderful Fika, by the way.

    Hugs, Julia

    Like

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